So, you’ve decided to take up the lovely game of badminton. One of the earliest decisions that you’ll need to make is, what racket do I use? Ideally, you’d get a chance to try out different rackets, play a few games with each one, and then pick the one that feels great to play with. But, for everyday badminton players, we don’t have that luxury. You may get away with borrowing a racket from one of your club mates for a game or two, but you’ll need to buy your own badminton racquet pretty soon after you start playing the game.
Most badminton beginners buy a racket before they step onto an indoor court. They probably have enjoyed the outdoor game, using a badminton set, and want to step up and do some serious game play and develop their badminton tactics and technique. And also stay in shape. However, they usually make the wrong buying decision when looking for a beginner’s badminton racket. So let me share with you the 3 don’ts that I preach to all beginners.
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Beginner Badminton Racket
Don’t buy a “pro” racket
I don’t mean you don’t get a good racquet; but don’t get a racket because a professional uses it. Don’t get the Yonex Voltric because Lin Dan won 2 Olympic Golds using it. I bet he used a very customized version of the racket. Don’t buy the Li-ning Flame N55 because you want to play like Chen Long. You’re a beginner, most of the rackets used by professional badminton players are going to hurt your game development (not improve it) and most likely cause you bodily harm. You simply cannot handle the racket!
While on this topic, I get a lot of questions from beginners about stringing tension! There seems to be a lot of mis-information about the benefits of high tensions. Higher badminton string tensions give you more control at the expense of power (less elasticity = less power). Basically, as a beginner badminton player, you should get your racket stringed at the lowest tension possible. Believe me, it’s the best thing that you can do for your game – you’ll learn control and have more power in your shots. You will enjoy the game more, play longer (less fatigue, less wrist and elbow pain) and get better faster. Don’t fall for the marketing hype!
Don’t buy a head heavy racket
If you don’t know what is a head heavy racket, that’s good! Don’t get close to these monsters. A lot of injuries I see in beginner badminton players is because of using head heavy rackets. Again, a lot of hype about “power” in badminton (the blame lies with racket manufactures). If you’re a beginner, stay away from a head heavy racket. If you’re an older player, like me, stay away from a head heavy racket. If you’ve not mastered badminton techniques, stay away from head heavy rackets – unless you’re ready to tame an elephant!
The probability that you’ll hurt your wrist and elbow. Here’s why, most beginners try to hit the shuttlecock harder by swinging the racket even harder – and not by using the right technique (trunk rotation + arm pronation + wrist action). Ideally, you want to get a badminton racket that is even balanced, slightly heavy around (very light rackets cause a similar problem), flexible frame (the more flexible the better – stiff frames are bad for your arm, and a badminton racket’s stiffness is something you cannot change), and use lower string tensions.
Don’t spend too much
Playing badminton is not cheap. You’ll probably need to pay a membership for your club/court/facility (can be as high at $600 a year). At a minimum, you’ll also need to buy shoes, racquets, and shuttlecocks. A good pair of shoes will last you years, but cost about $150. You’ll need to budget for shuttlecocks, $2 for a good plastic shuttle that lasts 2-4 games. Shuttlecocks are a recurring cost, so they might end up being the most expensive badminton equipment you buy. Depending on how often you play, you’ll need anywhere from 2-6 rackets a year (if you play all year round).
So a year’s badminton budget could easily get to $1000. And if you go through 6 – $150 rackets, that can financially set you back. As a beginner, you’re going to break a few rackets. At least a couple if you play once every week for a year. My advice is to you, as a beginner badminton player, is to try and keep your costs as low as possible, and then invest in the game more as you learn to enjoy it and see the benefits to your health.
Those are the 3 beginner badminton racket don’ts that I preach. Hopefully, I’m preaching to the choir! What should you look for? You want to get a durable racket that does everything well. That is a durable, fast, evenly balanced racket. That’s the kind of racket that most badminton beginners are going to enjoy playing with and develop their game. Here are the 3 rackets that I recommend.
3 Best Badminton Rackets for Beginners
My first recommendation is the Senston N80. First, it ticks the durability box. This racket is going to survive a few knocks. In addition it’s not too heavy (86g), and has very good control. When I got my first Senston N80, it was pre-strung with NBG-95 at 22 lbs. Which is too high for a beginner badminton player, especially since I practice with plastic shuttles exclusively. When the strings broke, I got it restrung at a lower tension (the loss in control was negligible).
Finally, it’s relatively cheap to replace. If anything was to happen to it, it will not break the bank to get a replacement. You’ll get the best bang for your buck with this racket – period. And I’d recommend you get 2 of them, so that you can have a spare to use when restringing, lending out, or if it breaks. Check current price on Amazon.
Now this is a racket that is less durable than the Senston N80 and a tad more expensive. It’s lighter than the Senston N80, and unlike the Senston N80 – which is even balanced, the Nanoray 10F is head light balanced. So it’s very easy on my hands and handles very well. If you enjoy a fast game, and love to use drives – like I do, this is the racket that you should. I don’t recommend it for an absolute beginner, mainly because it’s rather fragile – I’ve broken 2 Nanorays in the last 6 months!
But if you’re a mature player that can take good care of their racket, then get this racket. It handles extremely well and it is a joy to play with. What I love about it is that I don’t get tired playing with this racket and I find it’s not as physically demanding on my old body as the Senston N80. I’d not recommend this racket for an absolute beginner, but it’s probably the best badminton racket for an intermediate-beginner and intermediate badminton players. Check current price on Amazon.
The Apacs Lethal 6 is a racket for those who want to improve their power generation – which should be your main goal after you’ve mastered the basic badminton shots and technique. That’s why I’d recommend the Apacs Lethal 6 to any intermediate and advanced beginner badminton player who likes to smash. It’s an even balanced racket – so you get great control of your shots without giving up power. The only drawback to this racket is that it’s light. But I solved that by getting it stringed with a higher gauge (thicker) string and lowered the stringing tension to 22lbs. I also added an overgrip – again made it heavier. End result, more power in my shots, and minimal loss in control.
Once I got it, it matched the control of the Nanoray 10F Speed, but I got more power in my shots than the Nanoray (I bet that’s because of the lower string tension bed), which was an awesome surprise! This racket has become one of my favorites rackets to play with. And it’s more durable than the Nanoray – I don’t know why. Best badminton racket you’ll ever get for less than $50? Check current price on Amazon.
There you have it, those are the 3 badminton rackets I’d recommend for beginner badminton rackets. As always, I look forward to your questions and comments…